The American Israel Public Affairs Committee has sent a letter to all 535 members of Congress, urging them to refrain from taking any public stand at this time on stationing U.S. troops on the Golan Heights.
The letter asks the Iawmakers to “take no public position nor any legislative action, for or against U.S. personnel on the Golan, that could undermine a unique opportunity for peace between Israel and Syria.”
The letter was sent amid a flurry of recent lobbying on the issue. Any peace agreement between Israel and Syria is expected to involve a withdrawal from all or part of the Golan Heights.
Clinton administration officials have indicated that they would be willing to ask Congress to send U.S. peacekeeping forces to help enforce any agreement.
In an effort to topple any future Israeli-Syrian accord that includes territorial concessions, opponents of the peace talks say they are trying to stir congressional opposition to any U.S. deployment on the Golan.
“The many legitimate questions you may have concerning whether to commit U.S. personnel to the Golan cannot be answered definitively today simply because no understanding has been reached on the issues,” the AIPAC letter states.
The letter was signed by AIPAC’s senior leadership, including the President Steve Grossman and Executive Director Neal Sher.
The letter says the pro-Israel lobby is “disappointed with the slow pace of progress and the lack of flexibility shown by the Syrians in the course of these negotiations.”
AIPAC urged that future discussions on the issue be “fair and balanced.”
Meanwhile, the American Zionist Movement has also sent letters on the issue to all members of Congress.
AZM’s letter, signed by the group’s president, Seymour Reich, and executive director, Karen Rubinstein, said even though a debate concerning troops on the Golan is necessary, holding it now is “premature, divisive and seriously prejudicial to the possibility of an Israeli-Syrian peace accord.”
The letter also referred to a resolution passed at an AZM conference in Miami earlier this month.
The resolution says the organization will urge Congress not to take action on the issue until the need and role of U.S. troops is determined.